Marketing to Find New Art Collectors
It is challenging for contemporary art galleries to differentiate themselves in today’s market since competition for buyer’s attention has exploded. Art gallery value propositions often sound the same.
A clear and concise value proposition is a fundamental element of any good business, but this tool has not been used well in the gallery industry.
Your art gallery’s value proposition is important because it both attracts collectors to your gallery, over your many competitors, and it assures them that buying a work of art from your gallery will offer the benefits they require.
Here I want you to re-examining your gallery’s value proposition. Answer the following questions.
- Are you bringing your gallery’s value proposition to life for your clients across all your sales and marketing efforts?
- Is the message consistent among staff and online?
- Does your value proposition give your business a competitive edge?
- Is the value you offer potential art collectors clear and relevant to them?
A value proposition, regardless of industry, does three things.
- Speaks directly to the buyer
- Solves a problem or meets a specific need
- Defines how your business is different or better than others.
The offering and value you provide should be relevant and clear for each of group of collectors you want to attract to your gallery and artists.
One of the most valuable aspects of crafting a value proposition message for your gallery is the ability to differentiate from your competition. That becomes an incredible tool in attracting the right buyers for artists.
When buyers resonate with your gallery’s value message, they are partly prequalified to buy and emotionally engaged with your program.
The value proposition of art is often less apparent than it is for something like a luxury car or piece of jewelry. Art dealers must do a better job communicating the value of both the artwork they represent and the gallery itself.
Repetition is vital to be a useful marketing tool for attracting art collectors. It’s all in how you tell your story to demonstrate value. This can not be underestimated for attracting new collectors to your gallery, website, and events. Value in the eyes of a buyer is essential for moving from prospect to client.
As part of your research check out Gallery Fuel’s article
There are many research reports online with insights into the buying needs/behaviors for any demographic that fits your gallery’s client base.
Up Next: Gallery Brand
Creating a strong brand positioning enables you to communicate a customer value proposition that can be used in many ways, such as in the gallery with prospective buyers, on your website and in your brochures, in your fair booth, and with advertising and PR.
Branding is another fundamental marketing element that helps you find new collectors. Your art gallery’s brand pulls collectors into your gallery because, like your value proposition, your brand makes a promise to art buyers about the entire experience they will have with your gallery. The pull comes from successfully aligning your business values with your target collectors’ personal values.
To do branding right, think beyond a logo, a tagline, font style and colors. Creating a compelling brand can be tricky. It’s more of an abstract concept that needs to be woven into all your marketing messages and communications with clients.
Branding helps define your mission and show your audience who you are and why your gallery exists. If you know your target audience well, your gallery’s brand should appeal to your ideal collector’s personalities, concerns, aspirations, and behaviors. That helps new art collectors feel at ease buying from your gallery.
One way to integrate your brand with your marketing activities is through gallery brand storytelling
Telling your personal story can help art lovers connect with your gallery as well. Ways storytelling can enhance your art gallery brand might include:
- Sharing what your gallery passionately believes in and how that drives you to do what you do.
- Tell the story of how your gallery’s program has evolved over the years or what you intend to contribute to the community in the future.
- Collector’s stories about how they discovered your gallery or an artist enables you to tell a story from another perspective.
Need some inspiration? Check out this gorgeous and moving brand story from Land Rover. Notice how they reinforce their brand, what they stand for and also describe the Land Rover buyer, allow them to see themselves as part of this brand story. Brilliant.
Land Rover Brand Story
Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate your gallery’s brand. It makes your business more humanized and personal, which helps draw people to your gallery in a more meaningful way.
Where brand positioning can be most helpful is in the intangible elements, like service, reputation, public perception, and emotion. The Land Rover commercial does all that.
When incorporating your brand into your next show announcement or website and social media profiles, consider both the emotional and rational ways in which your prospects will internalize and place value on what you are promoting. For example, how does an exhibition fit into your brand’s promise and what is the value a collector will receive from seeing the show.
Power of a Tagline
Reinforcing your art gallery’s brand in marketing can also be done by creating a memorable tagline that goes on everything, especially your website’s homepage. Remember repetition is critical for a message to stick in the minds of collectors.
Push your branding out with all your marketing activities and allow it to pull in new art collectors for your artists.
Branding is more powerful than a sexy logo design, make your art gallery’s brand strategy run through your entire business.
Your gallery’s website is often how a potential art buyer discovers your gallery and the artists you represent. As with the art on your walls, your website should draw visitors in and encourage them to explore and engage. It’s your digital storefront.
I will walk you through what a comprehensive website audit should entail.
If you already have website or are building one for a brand-new art gallery, then this will be excellent guide for making it a strong sales and marketing tool right from the start.
Importance of Regular Website Audits
It is a good idea to conduct a website audit every year to ensure it is functioning to its maximum potential and providing the best experience for your visitors. This is especially true if it is maintained by multiple staff members, revolving interns or outside designers.
I have put together an audit checklist to guide you or staff member through how to do a comprehensive audit on your gallery’s website. It will cover elements of your site that creates a great visitor experience and how to optimize for strong SEO.
The checklist includes the following and can be downloaded below.
- Site Speed
- Mobile Friendly Designs
- Structure for Customer Experience
- Website content
Most Common Art Gallery Website Problems
The top four problems I see on many art gallery websites are easy to resolve and can make a tremendous impact of your websites ability to attract new art collectors.
- Lack of information about the gallery, artists and individual works of art.
- Outdated exhibition pages.
- No invitation (or not clearly placed) to engage, such as connect to social media, join a newsletter list, inquire about a specific artwork.
- Poorly structured site, such as not being mobile friendly, bad site navigation, broken links, lack of security, and poor readability.
These problems create a poor first impression and gallery brand experience for potential clients. It is important to get all of these four fundamental elements of your gallery’s website right.
Now let’s look specifically at a few critical pages for an art gallery website.
Your gallery’s home page should provide information about the focus of the gallery, value proposition and give viewers a sample of what is new in the gallery through both text and images of artworks.
While images are the star, pages with only images do not help search engines rank you correctly. Have some text with keywords on the home page as well for search engines to use to help you get found and ranked well.
The artist roster page is probably one of the most important pages on a gallery site. I often see them designed with only artist’s names listed and no image to give viewers a sense of an artist’s style.
A roster page designed like this can discourage site visitors from exploring and discovering new artists and is only useful to a visitor who already knows the artist name for which they are looking.
Don’t limit the possibilities of discovery. Organizing your roster page by category also helps site visitors find what they are looking for, as well as encourage them to explore. Your categories might be by medium or style or price. Determine what would be most appealing to your gallery’s buyers. Offering a filter capability like this vastly improves the user experience of your website.
You want the artwork to be the star of your artists portfolio pages, but these pages are also a critical sales tool. In addition to imagery, information beyond title, size and medium, is needed to help viewers fully relate and emotionally connect to the work. Incorporating more information about individual works of art or series will actually help drive more inquiries from your website.
Here are few ways you can accomplish this.
- Add details about each work of art in the portfolio and the body of work it is part of. For example, if your artist paints landscapes, share the subject locations and what connection the artist has with that location. For abstracts you could perhaps discuss how the artist developed each composition or why the color pallet was selected.
- Post several visuals for each artwork including detail shots, framed and unframed, an image with a piece of furniture near it to provide perspective and context of size, etc.
- Consider creating a gallery blog to share more details about your artists, their creative process and different series of work. This is valuable for both SEO and site experience. You can link to the blog post on artist’s portfolio page.
Art Fair Promotion
Most galleries promote their presence at an art fair by listing the date and booth number on their website and then link to the art fair’s website. Why would you want to send prospects away from your site to get information?
Instead create a separate page for each of your upcoming fairs. Doing this gives you the opportunity to highlight the significance of what you will have in your booth and how your participation aligns with your gallery program. You can also include a map for your clients directing them to your booth.
This strategy keeps your prospects focused on what will be in your gallery’s booth. The convenience of the all this information on one page provides a positive gallery brand experience as well.
User Experience (UX) of your Website
It is a mistake to only think about details that help communicate what you want people to know (like exhibition information) or what you want them to do (such as submit an inquiry form). The experience your prospective buyers have on your gallery website is increasingly important. The goal of a well-designed user experience is to help your site visitors do what they want to do when interacting with your gallery online.
As you audit your website, consider how your gallery’s online experiences are making people feel. Are you confusing them? Are you coming off as cold and exclusive? Are you overwhelming them or being too vague?
Having a good SEO strategy is vital for your fine-art gallery to gain exposure with the right art buyers for your artists. If an art collector is looking for a piece by a specific artist, you want your gallery to be listed above the other galleries who represent them.
Focus your efforts on these top five things that effect SEO search engines today.
- Relevancy – Every page should have enough written content to let search engines match relevancy to an inquiry. Here is where you need to put thought into keywords and use them in your copy and meta data.
- Authority – An authoritative site, to a search engine, refers to both the amount and quality of inbound links from other websites back to your gallery site and engagement levels of viewers.
- Mobile-responsive – Mobile counts for almost 60% of online searches today. If your gallery’s website is not mobile responsive, your SEO will be affected. Not sure if your gallery’s website meets the new mobile requirements? Check out Google’s Mobile Testing Tool.
- Security (https) – Websites are now being penalized in search rankings for not having an SSL certificate. If you have not done this yet, talk to your web developer or hosting company.
You might consider creating internal guidelines or a checklist for expectations and gallery standards. This kind of tool can help ensure consistency and accountability, particularly if website maintenance is managed by different staff members, contractors or interns.
Understand your Numbers
To know how successful your website is, you need to understand the data and analytics. I know… it’s not sexy, but necessary.
So, what metrics should you be tracking for your art gallery website? Let’s take a look.
- Number of visitors – The number of people who visit your site over a defined period of time.
- Source of visitors – How visitors arrive on your site, for example social media, online search (organic or paid), or a link from another site.
- Bounce rate – People who only visit one page before leaving your website.
- Goals – Actions visitors take on your site, click a link or button, watch a video, submit a form, make a purchase, etc.
There are other metrics you could track using Google Analytics, but the four above I feel are the most valuable for your business to understand.
To track these metrics you must place a small piece of code on your website so Google knows which pages to measure. You must also set up goals for your site within Google Analytics. Here is a video from Google Analytics that shows you exactly how to do this.
How to set up Goals in Analytics
I recommend you take a look at your website’s data on a quarterly basis to track how successful it is as a sales and marketing tool.
Google Search Console – Track your site’s search performance
WordPress plugin WP Fastest Cache – Helps keep your site clean to improve site speed
Your art gallery’s email list is one of your most valuable assets because it is full of warm leads for future sales. Even in the days of Instagram, email is still an instrumental marketing component.
Grow your mailing list of qualified art collectors
If your gallery is brand new or if you have been around for a while, you will be continuously building a mail list. There are a variety of ways you can entice people to hand over their valuable email address.
- Website – Art gallery websites often seem to hide the mailing list sign up or put in a place people don’t usually look, like the footer. Make sure your signup is visible from wherever a visitor is on your site.
- Facebook – Add a button or regularly post with an incentive to sign up. Facebook offers many integrations with email marketing systems, such as MailChimp.
- Events – Look for creative ways to get email addresses when visitors are in the gallery. The book on the reception desk is outdated. Ask for an email address so you can send them something specific and relevant to where they are in their process. Align your incentives with common excuses, such as “I’m just looking”, “I’m not sure what I’m looking for” or “I need to bring my spouse into the gallery”.
Due to the volume of email we all receive these days, we protect our email addresses. We don’t give it out unless we are excited about the benefits those emails will offer to our lives. Therefore, when asking prospects to sign up, focus on the benefits. What is in it for them when they hand over their address?
Email Nurture Sequence
Once you have them on your mailing list, don’t bore them. Many people joining your list may be people you don’t know. How can you build a better relationship with these people from the start, just based on just an email address? An email nurture sequence is a great strategy to try.
Thanks to email marketing automation technology you can send a series of 3-5 emails designed for your subscriber to get to know the gallery and encourage them to share more about their tastes and needs for art.
It is a powerful tool to introduce these new prospects to your gallery, artists, and services at an unintimidating, comfortable pace.
You also want to early on in your relationship make it easy for subscribers to understand if your art gallery is a good fit for their needs. When that happens, you get more qualified sales leads.
Let’s look a what a sample of what an art gallery email sequence might look like.
Email 1: Welcome
This email would welcome your new mailing list subscriber and set the expectations of what you will send to their inbox. You might also introduce staff members and explain any helpful tips for visiting the gallery, such as where to park and if your gallery hours change seasonally or how they can make an appointment.
Let them know if in this first email, that you will be sending a few more emails to help them their journey of art discovery in addition to your regular gallery news.
Email 2: How the gallery serves
This email could talk about how your program is designed, how you select the artists you represent and support them. You may also talk about how you serve your collectors, through various services. If you participate in any community events or charities, include that as well. You might link to a video tour of the gallery if available.
Email 3: Collecting art
Your third email could focus on how to collect art. You might talk about a few of your clients and the kinds of collections they are creating. Perhaps create a list of questions one should ask before buying and how to take care of art. You could link to books or resources you recommend to learn more.
Email 4: Engagement
By now they have had the opportunity to get to know your gallery a little better. In this email, you could ask them a series of questions about their needs and tastes. This could be done by linking to a survey or asking them to hit reply. You could use their answers to tag them appropriately in your client database so you can make future communications more personalized.
Is this strategy right for your gallery business? Consider if your gallery fits the following:
- Your collector based is made up of mostly older people who are downsizing and not purchasing art as often. You need to build strong relationships with a new generation of collectors.
- Generation X and Millennial art lovers are coming to gallery events but not purchasing due to a lack of confidence or knowledge about collecting art.
- You have an extensive email list, but open and click rates are low for your newsletter
With each new subscriber to your list, a nurture sequence starts to build those new relationships in a valuable way. This strategy increases the likelihood of a subscriber attending an event, referring your gallery to friends and most importantly, adding your artist’s work to their collection.
The vast majority of emails sent by art dealers are art-opening invitations, reminders of show closings, and welcome announcements about a new artist they are representing. Typical formatting includes a single image, the date and time of an event, and a link back to the website. To the gallery and artist, the information in these emails is very important, but do they provide enough value to compel subscribers to open the email?
Over time recipients can become numb if all a gallery has to say is “come to our show.” To increase email open rate, galleries must think like the people on their mailing list. Try creating newsletters focused around a central idea, such as a season, subject matter, style
or price range. You can also highlight staff members, gallery services or a roundup of all the works sold that month. Variety helps get emails opened and clicked.
I also encourage you to include a very specific call to action in your emails. That could be to RSVP for an event, answer a survey question, set up an appointment, etc.
Re-Engage inactive subscribers
It is a good idea to identify the inactive people on your email list and send them a campaign to try to get them re-engaged with your gallery. Some strategies are appropriate for a gallery business.
The challenge is that you are trying to re-engage with people who haven’t opened your emails by sending them….well – an email. Make your re-engagement email have a noticeably different message from your usual gallery newsletters to stand out in their inbox.
Consider these messaging suggestions for your art gallery.
- Offer a one-of-a-kind experience or VIP invitation.
- A brand focused email reminding them of the benefits your gallery offers.
- Ask the direct question. Do they want to remain on your list or not?
- An invitation to connect with your gallery in other ways, such as social media.
- Tap into subscribers’ emotions.
- Any combination of the above.
Your re-engagement campaign should maintain your gallery brand but step outside the box with the subject line, pre-header text, and images. These are the three elements of an email that people see first. I also recommend using a different from address. For example, if your newsletter comes from your gallery name, send your re-engagement email from you personally. Your email marketing system will allow you to designate how the email appears to be from in the receiver’s inboxes.
Boost Your Gallery’s Email Open Rate
When you are creating an email to send to your list, put yourself in the recipients’ shoes and ask yourself how you can make this email valuable and stand out in their crowded inboxes. Relevancy is everything.
The best way to ensure your emails are relevant to the recipient is to segment your mailing list. Your segments might include:
- Local buyers and prospects
- Out of town buyers and prospects
- VIP gallery clients,
- Hot leads
- Gallery partners
For example, if you want to announce an art opening event, send an invitation to those on your list that live locally with some information to get them excited about leaving their house and attending. Your goal for out-of-towners should be to educate about your exhibition and the works you have available, rather than to convince them to visit your opening. Offer to send a digital catalog and remind them how easy it is to have worked shipped.
The most crucial tracking metrics are:
- Open Rate
- Click-Through Rate (CTR)
- Unsubscribe Rate
As you try new email marketing strategies, keep track of how these metrics change. They will tell you if you are on the right track or if you need to pivot. I caution you to give each strategy enough time to take hold and produce accurate results. You may not hit the bullseye on the first try.